In the first large-scale effort of its kind, researchers have determined the full genetic sequence of more than 200 distinct strains of human influenza virus. The information, being made available in a publicly accessible database, is expected to help scientists better understand how flu viruses evolve, spread and cause disease. The genomic data already has enabled scientists to determine why the 2003-4 annual influenza vaccine did not fully protect individuals against the flu that season.
The new genomes are the initial results of the Influenza Genome Sequencing Project, a joint effort of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and multiple partners including NIH’s National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the Wadsworth Center of the New York State Department of Health in Albany, NY, and The TIGR Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Rockville, MD. The report was published online in the journal Nature on October 5.
For more information about the Influenza Genome Sequencing Project, visit the project Web site at http://www.niaid.nih.gov/dmid/genomes/mscs/influenza.htm. A press release issued at the launch of the genome project in November, 2004, is available at http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/news/newsreleases/2004/flugenome.htm. More information about the National Center for Biotechnology Information, part of NIH’s National Library of Medicine, is at http://www.ncbi.nih.gov/ .
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